High Court hands down judgment in defamation challenge to statements made by Jeremy Corbyn on the Andrew Marr Show


Re: Millett v Corbyn [2020] EWHC 1848 (QB)


This was a claim for defamation arising out of a statement made by Jeremy Corbyn on the Andrew Marr Show at the time Jeremy Corbyn was the leader of the Labour Party. Mr. Corbyn’s interview with Andrew Marr concerned, amongst other subjects, allegations that Mr Corbyn was an anti-Semite. Mr. Corbyn made the Statement in response to questions from Mr. Marr in relation to a speech which Mr. Corbyn had made some years earlier. Mr. Millett alleged that the words spoken by Mr. Corbyn in the Programme were defamatory of him and their publication caused and is likely to cause serious harm to his reputation.

The Court found that Mr Millett was being accused of abusive behaviour in relation to a public speaker on a controversial topic. This is an accusation of a type of conduct which is contrary to the values of a modern democracy where freedom of speech is a cherished value. Further, the behaviour of which he was accused was of such a level of seriousness (at the first meeting to which Mr Corbyn made reference) as to involve the police in potentially ejecting Mr Millett and the other individual (suggesting criminal misconduct). Again, this suggests conduct falling below the standards expected of citizens in modern British society.

The Court also considered that there was both a personal defamation as to Mr Millett’s character and a professional form of defamation in relation to how he was said to behave in his profession as a person attending and reporting on meetings of the type in issue.

Anthony Hudson QC was involved in this case.